There are 3 qualities for any being or existence, named as : Sattva (illumination), Rajas (passion), Tamas (ignorance).

Gita discusses them in great detail. According to it, the quality of Rajas is the reason for bondage or attaching a jiva to the physical plane, which resides in between the heaven (due to good deeds caused by Sattva) and the hell (due to sins caused by Tamas). Rajas has to be pacified for the liberation (viz. Moksha).

These leaves us with Sattva and Tamas. It indirectly implies that, the prominence of these 2 'may' not obstruct the liberation. Sattva being illuminating, would bring a consciousness to higher regions of life followed by Moksha.

Tamas on the other hand is related to ignorance and dumbness, which 'might' cause fall of a consciousness.
According to many verses, the sinfulness has no relation with the liberation. For example, verse BG 9.32 says that, sinful beings like Stri (Women), Vaishya (business class), Shudra (service class) also get liberation. Also refer BG 9.30.
[There is a local temple in my hometown. Its Mahant (prime priest) suggested that, opt for Stri Bhakti when possible, it's liked by the lord a lot.]

There are many bAwA-s (e.g. नागा साधु), who eat stale food, smoke and remain lazy in their life. Which are all notebook TAmasik qualities.
Now if Tamas brings to hellish regions, then why should such people be called Yogi-s or spirituals, isn't it?

As opposite argument, it's also said in BG 16.20, that those people who don't resolve their anger, lust, greed -- keep falling into lower & lower hells. But the further question is, how far can one fall? There has to be a limit of falling. One must be liberating after the last fall.

[Famous English saying related to tamas: "Ignorance is Bliss!"]


  • Does the quality of tamas cause the liberation?
  • If yes, then is the liberation via tamas quicker/slower than the sattva?

Clarification: For the liberation, one has to become gunAtita (beyond [3] qualities). But this question is not about it. Like how prominent Rajas obstructs the liberation, I want to know how the prominence of Tamas affects the liberation.

  • How come sinful beings are Stri , Vaishya, Shudra only ? Why not Kshatriya and Brahmins ? Where did you get this knowledge ? In that way even a good person who took birth in any of these mentioned varna, by default he'll become sinful ?
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Jul 23, 2018 at 6:45
  • The laziness in those yogi you described is only appearing in their physical work but I don't think they would be lazy in spiritual progress i.e Yoga.
    – Pandya
    Jul 23, 2018 at 11:14
  • 2
    Think of a seed. Inside the seed there is potency. But it is dormant. One day if the ambience is right, the seed will sprout. Similarly is the mind. When the desires are dormant and are yet to sprout, it is tamas. The tamasic person is lazy, but he is filled with desires. When the situation arises where he can fulfill his desires he will do so compulsively. The satvik person is like the seed is losing it's potency. It is losing its desire to sprout. This person appears to be lazy on the outside, but inside he has less need to satisfy desires and acts with discrimination.
    – Sai
    Jul 23, 2018 at 16:35
  • 1
    It's wrong understanding that tamas is something bad or negative. Whole creation is made up of three gunas. If there is no tamas then shristi cannot exist. Even its essential for functioning and sustenance of mind body etc. Some sanyasins have portrayed it as something very negative to get rid of. Jul 23, 2018 at 16:55
  • 1
    @iammilind so except geeta this is not found in other texts. Jul 26, 2018 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


Gita makes it clear that one has to transcend all three Gunas to attain moksha. One has to reach Sattva before one can attain moksha. One has to transform one's nature from bad to good before one can even be in a position to attain moksha.

Gita 9.32 is not saying all women are sinful. That would be ridiculous. The word papyoni means socially oppressed.

When the embodied soul rises above these three modes that spring from the body, it is freed from birth, death, old age and pain and attains life eternal.

Gita 14.20

Even Sattvika goodness is imperfect since this goodness had for its condition the struggle with its opposite. The moment the struggle ceases and the goodness becomes absolute, it ceases to be goodness and goes beyond all ethical compulsion. By developing the nature of sattva, we rise beyond it and obtain transcendent wisdom.

Commentary on Gita 14.20 by S. Radhakrishnan

Dominance of Tamas Guna makes attaining moksha difficult.

A list of reasons for this are given in the Gita.

That worship is of the nature of Tamas which is not sanctioned by scriptures, which is without gift of food, without the chanting of holy mantras, without sacramental presents and without sincere faith.

Gita 17.13

Apart from these reasons a person with dominant Tamas Guna performs incorrectly the threefold austerities defined in 17.14-16.

Service of Devas, holy men, teachers, parents and wise persons, as also observance of cleanliness, uprightness, continence and non-injury - these constitute austerities pertaining to the body.

Gita 17.14

Speaking only words that are inoffensive, true, pleasant and beneficial as also regular recitation of scriptures constitute austerity pertaining to speech.

Gita 17.15

Serinity of mind, gentleness, moderation is speech, self-control and purity of heart - these are called austerity of the mind.

Gita 17.16

The austerity performed through the practice of self-torture under the influence of perverse theories or done for the destruction of another, is spoken of as Tamas by nature.

Gita 17.19

  • This question relies on the fact that - gunas change over time (although this is possible), but BG states at 14.22-25 that a person freed from the impressions of happiness and distress and being neutral is the one transcended three gunas.
    – User 29449
    Jan 1 at 12:48

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